The Five Solas
Many of the doctrines that we Protestants take for granted find their crystallized expression in the thought of the Reformers. Theologians speak of the Solas, from the Latin word sola, meaning “alone.” Usually we list five Solas:
1. Sola Scriptura, meaning “Scripture alone”: The Bible is the sole and final authority in all matters of life and godliness. The church looks to the Bible as its ultimate authority.
2. and 3. Sola Gratia, meaning “grace alone,” and Sola Fide, meaning “faith alone”: Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. It is not by works; we come to Christ empty-handed. This is the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, the cornerstone of the Reformation.
4. Sola Christus, meaning “Christ Alone”: There is no other mediator between God and sinful humanity than Christ. He alone, based on His work on the cross, grants access to the Father.
5. Soli Deo Gloria, meaning “the glory of God alone”: All of life can be lived for the glory of God; everything we do can and should be done for His glory. The Reformers called this the doctrine of vocation, viewing our work and all the roles we play in life as a calling.
These doctrines form the bedrock of all that we believe, and the Reformers gave these doctrines their finest expression.
- Stephen J. Nichols